Tuesday, June 12, 2007

tool at boardwalk hall - 6.9.07

saw tool in atlantic city this weekend. probably if i had gone with someone who really wanted to see the opening band, Melt Banana, i wouldn't have gotten stuck in traffic on the AC expressway, i would have found parking faster, and it wouldn't have taken me 15min to find my way out of the ballys casino, where the parking elevator conveniently disgorged me. but i did, didn't and it did, so when i arrived at boardwalk hall and began to wend a way toward portal Q i heard the thumpingness of Jambi. motherfucker.

so much for an interminable passage of opening bands.

so what to say of my first tool concert? well, it wasn't what i expected. it wasn't a Nails show, for one. whereas some people go to NIN shows hoping to hear the fuck-you-like-an-animal song, this audience seemed comprised of hard-core fans. tool likes to arcanely noodle their way into songs, i think as a kind of fan jeopardy, but as soon as the event horizon's reached and the song's identifiable, a collective roar rises to the ceiling. everyone around me knew the words to the parts of songs that were obviously the germane parts – and we're not talking simple stuff like the FIST FUCK part of Wish. this is deeper, darker stuff.

though i was on the floor, there was no moshing, and little thrashing. true, our space was constrained by folding chairs, in part a consequence of several deaths at a tool show yea
rs ago; but when i asked the veteran josh if there were mosh pits at other tool shows, he frowned at me and asked, "why would you do that? how could you enjoy the music that way?”

here's the AC setlist:


The Pot

46 & 2
Schism (the kickass LONG version)

Lost Keys & Rosetta Stoned

Intension Intro/Right In Two

Wings For Marie parts 1 & 2

[a little break while the 4 guys sat onstage and talked
amongst themselves.]
Lateralus (w/ Melt Banana guitarist and drummer)


that's a total of 11 songs spanning 2 hours. do the math. while trent strings together 20 songs that collectively tick out a sine wave of energy, from March of the Pigs to The Frail/The Wretched, to Gave Up and Hurt and back again, the tool set list seems more a basket of polished gems handed out with delicacy, tact and musical mastery. and mastery's key. look, i love NIN and trent's a genius and all, but nobody in the history of the supporting band could be accused of being a musical virtuoso. josh freese probably comes closest, but i think that's more out of sheer insanity than talent. stack him next to tool's drummer danny carey and there's no contest.

a Nails show – if you're where you should be, on the floor – is a cathartic experience that exorcises the demons leaving you drained and at peace. (YMMV, of course.) a tool show is an appreciation of musicians. the dude next to me was a drummer and danny carey devotee. “just watch this,” h
e advised as guitarist adam jones deftly began to pick out the opening notes of Lateralus, “the drummer from Broken Banana is gonna come out and duel with danny, or at least that's what they did in baltimore last night.” several minutes later, the Melt Banana drummer and guitarist took the stage, the drummer beating out a bassline answered in snare and tabla by the man in the Bruins jersey behind the barricade of drums. “wow,” i said to josh. “no, wait” he said, “they're just warming up.” three minutes later danny fell in with his entire setup while the crowd stood motionless, just soaking up the feeling of thundering, rolling drums. i had goosebumps. “see?” said my new drummer friend when the guitarists took over. i nodded dumbly.

'taint just danny, though: justin chancellor, the brit who hammers out tool's characteristic rippling bassline is mesmerising as wel
l, making complexity look deceptively easy. he and adam attacked the bridge of Schism, sped up to double-time live, without breaking a sweat it seems. nobody showboats, either – no one leaps into the crowd or dives into speakers; and for a lead singer, maynard's remarkably content hanging at the back of the stage next to his drummer. and yet the crowd's transfixed and 100% invested. tool seems to be a musician's band.

some highlights:
-- Lost Keys and Rosetta Stoned, which i ho-hummed through on the album are excellent live. armed with a vocoder like a tracheotomy patient, maynard alternates b
etween two voices as the chosen one divulges his story. i've new appreciation for that song, esp now that i've seen the light rings approximating spaceships above the stage.
-- the light show, the LAY-SERs, the video screens – all of this is tight stuff, but honestly i need to see the show about 4 more times to fully appreciate it because most of my attention was on the band...

-- but i did notice that during Wings for Marie, part 2 the lights fanned out over our heads, from the stage to the back of the hall and...
-- the crossing, flitting lines that formed and reformed the Tool Army symbol were projected on the
american flag hung at the back of the venue.
-- some tool fans just Know. as Wings part 2 wrapped up with maynard singing of his departed mother, judith marie, “hallelujah, it's time for you to bring me home” a guy several rows in front of me
pressed his palms together and lifted them over his bowed head, standing quiet and motionless while applause rumbled.
-- with Wings complete, the band took a break, the four of them sitting onstage in a cluster, talking amongst themselves like the cool kids at the high school lunch table. they chilled for 5 or 10 minutes while the crowd murmured its own conversation; then justin raised a lighter and boardwalk hall lit up like white and yellow lights climbing a christmas tree. the band sat for a little while longer, looking out at the crowd, then spread across the
stage and noodled toward something we eventually recognised as Lateralus, which has been playing non-stop in my mental jukebox ever since. small price to pay, though. i gotta see these guys again.

1 comment:

addon said...

good grief.